Happy 241st Birthday, Jane Austen – 16 December 1775 – What I Learned from Jane Austen

(This post was originally published on December 16, 2010. However, I could not permit Austen’s birthday to pass without notice.)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen remains an inspiration to throngs of readers more than two centuries after her birth. Yet, what keeps readers craving Austen’s unique twist on the world? Beyond her elegant prose, her biting wit, and her telling dialogue, Austen captures the truth of human behavior. She understands people. I often describe what she so masterly did with the stroke of a pen as “peeling an onion.” There are layers to Austen’s characters. She creates each one with consummate skill. Lord Brabourne said of Austen, “She describes men and women exactly as men and women really are.” And that dear friends is Austen’s secret. She creates believable characters because Austen was an astute observer of the human condition.

What have I learned from reading Jane Austen?
“If things are going untowardly one month, they are sure to mend the next.” (Mr. Weston in Emma)

Nothing is more deceitful that the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.” (Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice)

“Nothing can compare to the misery of being bound without Love, bound to one, & preferring another. That is a Punishment which you do not deserve.” (from a letter to her niece Fanny Knight)

“Those who do not complain are never pitied.” (Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice)

“One man’s ways may be as good as another’s, but we all like our own best.” (Admiral Croft in Persuasion)

“Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken.” (from Emma)

“My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.” (Anne Elliot in Persuasion)

“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity to what we would have others think of us.” (Mary Bennet in Pride and Prejudice)

“Selfishness must always be forgiven you know because there is no hope of a cure.” (Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park)

“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” (Mrs. Elton in Emma)

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” (Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey)

“Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.” (from Northanger Abbey)

“I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.” (Austen in a letter to her sister Cassandra)

“How little of permanent happiness could belong to a couple who were only brought together because their passions were stronger than their virtue.” (from Pride and Prejudice)

“If a woman doubts as to whether she should accept a man or not, she certainly ought to refuse him. If she can hesitate as to ‘Yes,’ she ought to say ‘No’ directly. It is not a state to be safely entered into with doubtful feelings, with half a heart.” (Emma Woodhouse in Emma)

“There are certainly not so many men of large fortunes in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them.” (from Mansfield Park)

“… the more I know of the world the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require too much.” (Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility)

“It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy; it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.” (Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility)

Add your own quotes or comments below. I’d love to hear from you. 

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About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
This entry was posted in British history, Great Britain, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, real life tales, Regency era, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

95 Responses to Happy 241st Birthday, Jane Austen – 16 December 1775 – What I Learned from Jane Austen

  1. Suzan says:

    I loved reading what Jane Austen taught you and all the quotes. Quite entertaining.

  2. TattingChic says:

    Happy Birthday dear Jane! This is such a lovely party! Thanks for letting me stop by! 😀
    ~TattingChic

  3. maichi says:

    Happy Birthday Jane!!!
    This is a happy day for all your fans :-).

  4. Jane Odiwe says:

    I just wanted to drop by and say hi at the party – lovely post, Regina!

  5. Pingback: Happy Birthday Jane Austen Blog Tour: A Celebration of her Legacy – Her Juvenilia « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

  6. Ruth H says:

    Happy Birthday Jane.

    I only wish I was able to personally thank Jane for all the many hours enjoyment her books have given me. I never get bored of reading her books.

  7. Vic says:

    Happy Birthday, Jane Austen! What a wonderful day to celebrate, for the winter in my city is as cold and bitter as on the day Jane was born.

  8. Jacinta says:

    Happy Birthday Jane!!! Love the tribute and enjoy life.

  9. Isabel says:

    Happy Birthday, my dear Jane!

  10. Happy Birthday, dear Jane Austen!

    Hello Regina!!

    I’m from Brazil, I saw your blog at the Jane Austen Society of Brazil!

    It’s amazing how Jane Austen can join people from every parts of the world!
    I loved your blog, congratulations!

    Priscila Murlik

    my e-mail: priscila.smurlik@gmail.com

  11. Linda B says:

    I love all the quotes, esp. the one about vanity and pride. And, re. the quote that when things are going badly one month, you can look forward to improvement in the future. Being an eternal optimist, that could be something I might say to one of my children. Thanks for birthday celebation and blog tour.

  12. Linda, my favorite quote is the last one from Marianne Dashwood. I am still waiting for my Colonel Brandon or my Mr. Darcy.

  13. Tram says:

    Happy Birthday Jane

  14. Lia says:

    I love Jane Austen! Happy Birthday!

  15. Maria Grazia says:

    Great post, Regina! Thanks for joining and for being such an enthusiastic Janeite.
    Good luck to commenters here for the final draw!

  16. Arianne says:

    Happy Birthday, Jane!

  17. Sara S. says:

    Happy birthday Jane Austen!!
    ~Sara S.

  18. Anna says:

    A great post, so well written!

  19. Hannah says:

    Thank you for sharing all of those quotes! And happy birthday to Jane Austen! Our lives are infinitely bettered with your novels in them. 🙂

  20. I am very happy to have discovered your beautiful blog. Your tribute is grand on this special day. Happy Birthday to our dear Jane.

  21. Terie says:

    Happy Birthday Jane!
    Regina, I won a copy of your Phantom at Pemeberly and devoured it. I loved it. It was a terrific gothic mystery with my favorite couple. Thanks so much!
    Terie
    lightousem516@sbcglobal.net

  22. Jess M. says:

    These are some of my very favorite Jane quotes! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  23. This is the latest from Sourcebooks for those of you having difficulty with your free eBooks. THE OFFER IS BEING EXTENDED AN EXTRA DAY!!!
    Unfortunately, the offer is only available to US customers, Here is the latest update:

    I am SO sorry for all the confusion – it has been a busy morning and I have been trying to get the information correct. Please let your readers know the following:

    First off let me sincerely apologize for all the confusion regarding the free offer of Jane Austen special edition titles as well as the 10 Austen inspired novels. Please extend this apology to your readers and followers as well.

    We have been trying to fix the problem all morning. It takes a lot of cooperation from different parties to make the offer happen and it unfortunately it took some extra time to iron out the kinks.

    Let me tell you know that iBooks and Google books currently has everything correct.

    Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony are currently working to get their prices adjusted. They should be correct shortly. Sourcebooks.com will also have our books and the illustrated versions available for free within the next hour!

    Because of this confusion we want to celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday an extra day! This offer will be good tomorrow as well. Again I am sorry for the confusion and thank you for being patient!

  24. Morgan says:

    Wonderful quotes! There really is stuff in those novels which are still applicable today

  25. Cassie says:

    Happy Birthday, Jane! You have given me so much through your writings… thank you.

    I’d love to join the giveaway— if this is the right place to do it.

    My email address is cassie(at)literaryladies(dot)com

  26. Elsina says:

    Wonderful post and blog! So glad I can add more Jane Austen blogs to my reader!

  27. Stephanie says:

    Happy Birthday Dear Jane
    Wonderful post….enjoyed it greatly

  28. Miss Laurie says:

    Happy Birthday dearest Jane! You are loved! 🙂

  29. Petali Rossi says:

    I love jane! It’s a very beautiful tribute for her! It’s a shame that she has written only six novels!
    sweet_mavina@hotmail.it

  30. Tarah says:

    Happy 235th birthday, dear Jane!

    Thank you for the beautiful tribute! I loved the quotes! :O)

  31. benjamina says:

    Happy Birthday Jane!

  32. Mystica says:

    Happy birthday Jane.

    Thank you for this post!

  33. Thalita says:

    Happy birthday Jane Austen! A genius of literature!
    email: thalitacarvalho@ymail.com

  34. Felicia says:

    Happy Birthday Jane!

    Wonderful post! This celebration is so much fun!

  35. vvb says:

    “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” (Mrs. Elton in Emma)
    that is the quote that fits my mood this season! staying at home within family coziness just warms body and soul.

  36. Lynn M says:

    Happy birthday, dearest Jane!

  37. Autumn says:

    Thank you for sharing what you’ve learned.
    Happy birthday Jane.

  38. Ariane says:

    Happy birthday, Jane

    My life has sense because of you!

  39. Margay says:

    I think it’s wonderful to see what an impact Jane Austen had on you – and everyone else, all these years later. Can you imagine that power?
    Margay

  40. Kim Withey says:

    Happy Birthday Jane, and my thanks to all who continue to pass on her legacy. Your efforts are appreciated more than you know.

  41. Kim, I am always pleased to see your name appear on my blogs. You are one of my favorite people, but I suppose I did not have to tell you that.

  42. JaneGS says:

    Terrific collection of some of Austen’s best strokes o’ the pen. And, I think I agree with Lord Brabourne–certainly Austen’s characters are as real to me as those I daily rub shoulders with.

    Enjoyable post on this enjoyable day–thanks for being part of the tour.

  43. Dina says:

    Happy Birthday to dear Jane Austen.

  44. Alexa Adams says:

    Love it! I too seek wisdom in life through Austen. This is a wonderful collection of quotes.

  45. Melissa Atwood says:

    We do learn a lot from Jane, don’t we.

    mhuether@hotmail.com

  46. AprilFool says:

    Happy birthday Jane – great bunch of quotes.

  47. Karen Field says:

    Loved looking at your site. I’m here because of the Jane Austen’s Birthday Blog Tour. I’ve read your last book and loved it. Keep up the great writing.

  48. Suzeja says:

    I enjoyed the wisdom of Jane Austen… I am forever trying to convince others to see the wisdom in her book quoting her but I am afraid most of time I fall on deff ears thanks for sharing her wisdom

  49. Great quotes Regina! Thanks for sharing. Here is one of my favs…

    She was of course only too good for him; but as nobody minds having what is too
    good for them.
    Mansfield Park

    Happy Birthday, Jane

    Cheers, Laurel Ann

  50. Babs says:

    Happy Birthday Jane! Regina has done a wonderful job on the books I have read from her. You would be happy I think Jane. Thank you for the books you wrote that have given us joy.

    • Thank you for the kind words regarding my books. Jane Austen gave me a new career. I wrote my first book on a dare from my students. I had no expectations of being published. In fact, I self published the book with a student doing the cover art just to prove to the class that whatever the challenge one must step up and face it. Luckily, Ulysses Press saw the work and bought the rights to it. And now, five Austen-related titles later, I am still writing. It has been a dream come true.

  51. Brianne says:

    Happy Birthday Jane!

  52. Katrina says:

    Thank you for the quotes. I too agree that more people should read Jane Austen, then the world might truly be a better place if we enacted some of the civility that would ‘rub off’!

  53. What lovely quotes! Truly Jane Austen possessed a great deal of wisdom for someone who led a somewhat sheltered and all too brief life. Her books have made a world of difference in my life!

  54. Pingback: Baby Jane Austen’s First Two Years: Happy 235th Birthday, Jane! « Jane Austen's World

  55. Bloggin BB says:

    Love the Jane Austen quotes on your birthday entry, Regina! Happy Birthday, Jane!

  56. Pingback: I Sat Next to Jane Austen at Her Birthday Lunch | First Draft

  57. Pingback: How Jane Austen has Enriched my Life – Happy Birthday Jane Austen Blog Tour « November's Autumn

  58. Risa says:

    Your initial description of Austen’s prose sounds remarkably like one of William Shakespeare! Two people, from different periods, who had human nature down pat!

    I loved the quotes you picked up!

    • I often think of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and of Much Ado About Nothing when I look at Austen’s works. For example, in Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth asks Darcy when he first knew that he had fallen in love with her. That scene always reminds me of Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado.

      • Risa says:

        Well, I never did think of comparing the two before I read your post. I don’t know that I would compare Beatrice and Benedick to Elizabeth and Darcy – I haven’t read the play though I have watched the Emma Thompson movie (and loved it, I might add!), and I don’t really see the resemblance. But I do see a similarity between Katherine and Petruchio to Emma and Knightley!

      • From Pride and Prejudice…
        Elizabeth’s spirits soon rising to playfulness again, she wanted Mr. Darcy to account for his having ever fallen in love with her. “How could you begin?” said she. “I can comprehend your going on charmingly, when you had once made a beginning, but what could set you off in the first place?”
        “I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which had laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”
        “For the liveliness of your mind I did.”
        “You may as well call it impertinence at once; it was very little less….To be sure, you knew no actual good of me; but nobody thinks of that when they fall in love.”

        From Much Ado About Nothing…
        Benedick: …And I pray thee now tell me, for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?
        Beatrice: For them all together, which maintained so politic a state of evil that they will not admit any good part to intermingle with them. But for which of my good parts did you first suffer love for me?
        Benedick: Suffer love! A good epithet. I do suffer indeed, for I love thee against my will.
        Beatrice: In spite of your heart, I think. Alas, poor heart, if you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for yours, for I will never love that which my friend hates.
        Benedick: Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.

        In one of my books, I have Darcy and Elizabeth recite the Shakespeare lines to each other.

  59. Risa says:

    Lol! Aye!…I’d forgotten this exchange between Benedick and Beatrice. I remember I couldn’t stop grinning during this exchange. I can see how it would fit in well with Elizabeth and Darcy, though I can’t really see Darcy being playful at all! I thought him very serious even once they’d declared their love for each other. As I recall, the narrative says that Elizabeth decided not to tease him too much for he had yet to learn to laugh or some such thing.

    • When Elizabeth says, “To be sure, you knew no actual good of me; but nobody thinks of that when they fall in love,” Darcy responds, “Was there no good in your affectionate behavior to Jane while she was ill at Netherfield?”

      “Dearest Jane! who could have done less for her? But make a virtue of it, by all means. My good qualities are under your protection, and you are to exaggerate them as much as possible, and, in return, it belongs to me to find occasions for teasing and quarreling with you as often as may be; and I shall begin directly….

  60. Rachel says:

    I’m so glad that Jane Austen and I share the same birthday!!! Great Austen posts, by the by! 🙂 Season’s Greetings!!

  61. Sorry…I get carried away when I speak of Austen. I was just so great to have someone who was truly interested in the passage.

    • Risa says:

      No need to apologise at all! Your quotes just made me realise that it has been a long while since I read the book that I have forgotten many details. I hope we’ll be able to carry out a better discussion sometime once I’ve re-read P&P. 🙂

      • Risa,
        Would you care to have a sample of my work? If you have not read one of my novels, I would happily send you one. If you are interested, leave me a mailing address on my website, which is more secure than is this public posting. Go to regina@rjeffers.com.

  62. Risa says:

    Thank you, Regina. I’ve sent you an e-mail.:)

  63. Luthien84 says:

    I love those quotes. In fact, I have it below in my blog to remind me of her insight into people’s behaviour. You can take a look.

    Happy Birthday, JA!

    evangelineace2020(at)yahoo(dot)com

  64. Happy birthday Jane!
    lovely post! Thanks for joining us in this big event!

    Adriana Zardini
    adriana@jasbra.com.br

  65. Happy Birthday, Jane! Thanks for the interesting post.
    marlenebreakfield(at)yahoo(dot)com

  66. JuneA** says:

    Wonderful post!! I hope that you are feeling better!!!!!

  67. Lisa Lynn says:

    Happy Birthday Jane! You are truly an inspiration.

    Hope you feel better ASAP.

    What a great post, love all the quotes.

    Always,
    Mostly Lisa

  68. Pingback: Jane’s Birth | Austen's Guide to Happiness

  69. Authors who continue to inspire, and have their works read so long after they are dead shows how great they truly are..

    I would love to have met her.

  70. lupa08 says:

    “I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love,” said Darcy.
    “Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.” – Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice

    And now I feel physically compelled to get my copy out and revisit Jane’s world.

    Lovely post!

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